This season has already been a rollercoaster. We’ve had rookie domination and veteran revival. We’ve had photo finishes and clear victors. The next stop on the Elite trail will bring a whole new level of drama. We’ve had a few big-fish events this year, but neither Toledo Bend nor Okeechobee showed out like we had all anticipated.
Sam Rayburn is one of those places where it is a real possibility to go out and catch 35 pounds and make giant moves — and it is fishing great right now. This should make for one incredible event.
The fish will be in the tail end of the spawn. There should be a healthy population of fry guarders for the first day or two, and there will likely be stable populations both shallow and deep setting up for summer. This should help the anglers spread out instead of being packed in the shallow areas, or all on community deep-water spots.
Now, let’s get into some fantasy picks. If you listened to our podcast, which you should be doing regularly, you’ll know that I have arranged the absolutely perfect team. Some combination of the ten guys I’m about to break down is sure to make up the perfect team, and I fully expect a gift card after Texas Fest is wrapped up.
If you’re reading the other pundit articles, take them with a grain of salt. I live in Texas, so I clearly have a better understanding of what it is going to take to win. Pay no attention to the fact that I’m in at least third, if not fourth place among my pundit-picking peers.
Editors Note: We at Bassmaster believe that Mr. Greathouse has put forth some amount of effort to purposely lead his pundit competitors astray by providing smart-sounding advice, which actually just confuses the simple minded, like Mr. Moore and Mr. Robbins. While he claims to have selected the “perfect” team, his season-long tally tells a different story. It’s an effective ploy, but if you want the truth on the best selections at Sam Rayburn, be sure to read Thomas Allen’s pundit review. He, clearly, is the most articulate and talented Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing communicator. (Just ignore his current unimpressive score …)
BUCKET A: LEFEBRE
My Pick: Dave Lefebre
What a bucket. So many big names and talented sticks. I am going with Lefebre, because his momentum is unreal. He is currently holding down fourth place in the Bassmaster Toyota Angler of the Year points, and he’s killing it. I can see him living and dying in shallow water. There is an impressive shad spawn going on this year, so expect everyone to start somewhere shallow. It’ll be the guys who can figure out what to do after that is done that will do well. Lefebre has a killer instinct and is tired of being a bridesmaid. This is right up his alley. At 3 1/2-percent currently, this guys is WAY undervalued.
Also Consider: Todd Faircloth
Texans understand Texas lakes. Not to say there won’t be non-Texans who do well, but Faircloth lived and breathed deep East Texas fisheries. He can fish both deep and shallow, and he only has a few subpar finishes in Texas. Expect him to be in the mix. His ownership is a little high for me right now, but if it dips below 10 percent, he will be hard to pass up.
BUCKET B: MONROE
My Pick: Ish Monroe
When you think about big-fish events, you must consider Ish Monroe. He had a tank at Okeechobee, another big-fish factory, but has since turned it around with a fifth at the Chickamauga Southern Open and a seventh at Ross Barnett. This one will suit him well.
Also Consider: Keith Combs
Any time you go to Texas, he better be on your radar. He would absolutely be my pick if it weren’t for his 40-percent ownership. I am praying that Monroe finishes higher than Combs so that 40 percent of you who are picking him don’t jump me in the standings.
BUCKET C: ROJAS
My Pick: Dean Rojas
I live in Texas and have my finger on the pulse of the lakes right now. If Rojas can find some shallow fish with a frog, he will have a strong showing. If I were a betting man — and I am — I would put money on the fact that the shallow guys will be throwing frogs and swim jigs targeting fry guarders and the last of the spawning fish. Those are big-fish baits, which can translate into big bags. Rojas has decent history in Texas, especially right down the road at Toledo Bend. He struggled there a month ago, but this is a different time of year and should lead to better results.
Also Consider: Aaron Martens
Martens is one of those guys who you might see up shallow taking it back to his California roots, or he might be throwing a drop shot to groups of fish starting to stack up out deep. He is versatile and dangerous. He hasn’t seen better than 26th this year so far, and I’m sure that will light a fire sooner or later. He’s due for a Top 12 if not a win.
BUCKET D: CROCHET
My Pick: Cliff Crochet
I need to give more love to the froggers. Crochet is more than well known for his frogging abilities. He’ll find some hay grass or shallow grass and do what he loves. He has some other sticks in this bucket to contend with, but I think given his 10-percent ownership, he’s worth a little bit of a risk. He tends to be boom and/or bust. I’m expecting his booms to outweigh his busts at Sam Rayburn.
Also Consider: Fred Roumbanis
This guy loves to throw a swim jig. He is pretty much a shallow-water specialist, so as long as the shallow-water fish remain abundant, he should make a deep run.
BUCKET E: JORDON
My Pick: Kelly Jordon
Sam Rayburn is only about 2 1/2 hours away from Lake Fork, where Jordon spent many years guiding and refining his skills. Without a doubt, he will be one of the guys dragging a big worm out deep. Someone is going to roll up on a spot and catch a true giant, and he’s got one of the best track records when it comes to big bass. Those 40 bonus points sure do go a long way. Thirteen-percent ownership is a little high, but he’s worth the risk.
Also Consider: Chris Zaldain
Bucket E is kind of tough because a lot of guys are worth considering — more than any other year that I can remember. It has a stack of anglers who are waiting for their momentum to change. Zaldain will be able to stick to what he likes to do at Sam Rayburn, which includes flipping and throwing big swimbaits. If he gets the itch to go out deep, he’s good at that, too. He has the skills. We’ll have to see if it’s his time.